Amina Faye as Jane Seymour (Photos provided by Des Moines Performing Arts)

A high-energy musical that retells and reimagines the story of the half-dozen wives of England’s King Henry the Eighth makes its Iowa debut tomorrow night. The Broadway touring production of “Six” features actress and singer Amina Faye playing the role of Jane Seymour, the third of the king’s six wives.

“Jane Seymour was the only one he truly loved,” Faye says. “Of the six wives that he had, he really loved her and it’s because she’s the only one who was able to give him the son that he needed to keep his legacy going.”

While two of the wives were executed, Seymour died from post-natal complications less than two weeks after the birth of her only child, the future King Edward the Sixth. Faye says she’s done extensive research on the fascinating woman she’s portraying.

“We kind of see submissiveness as weakness, but I think it’s actually very strong,” Faye says. “Her song is called ‘Heart of Stone,’ so despite anytime she wanted to talk back or tell him how she felt, she chose to be the strong one and be the anchor for that family and for him and for herself.”

While the story is set 500 years ago, it’s what Faye calls a “reclaiming” of the historical heartbreak in a modern story of contemporary song and dance — and 21st century girl power. Faye says Seymour was known for her gentle, peaceful nature.

“I like to portray her as someone who’s really strong, someone who’s witty, who’s not afraid to be vulnerable, which I think sometimes is the hardest thing to do,” Faye says. “I think it takes a really strong human to lay out their feelings and their emotions and let people take a peek at what’s happening on the inside.”

The hit musical features an all-woman cast and all-woman band, which Faye calls “refreshing.” She also notes, it’s the third straight production she’s been in that has an all-woman cast.

“This show is honestly a competition to see which wife had it the worst, right? We kind of have to come every day and cultivate this competitive environment when honestly, offstage it could be anything further than that,” Faye says. “We’re just all in support of one another and to know that we have that support on and off the stage is everything.”

Faye’s parents are natives of Senegal in western Africa, though she grew up in North Carolina where she first got hooked by musical theater in high school. Faye is a Penn State graduate and this is her first national tour — and her first time in Iowa.

The show runs at the Des Moines Civic Center through February 19th.

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